[GRAPHIC: ABC 7 Eyewitness News, high definition]
CHRIS NERIA: She misses being the wife and the mom that she was and, and, and what she always wanted to be.
DAVID ONO: A husband helps his paralyzed wife speak as she reacts to a multimillion dollar settlement in a tragic accident that changed their lives forever. Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm David Ono.
ELLEN LEYVA: I'm Ellen Leyva. This is Eyewitness News at 4 o'clock.
[GRAPHIC: $50 million settlement]
ELLEN LEYVA: Two women were hit in a violent hit and run accident in Dana Point last year that left them both confined to wheelchairs. Well now they've reached a $50 million settlement with the city, but of course their lives will never be the same. Orange County bureau chief Eileen Frere is live in Costa Mesa with their emotional story. Eileen?
EILEEN FRERE: And Ellen, the families say that the settlement money will help pay for the women's rehabilitation: speech therapy, physical therapy, and around-the-clock care which insurance does not cover. Both of the husbands have had to quit their jobs to care for their wives, so it has been a financial strain. But they say the settlement money will help them to go forward.
Stacy Neria moves her wheelchair using her chin. The 35-year-old and her friend 42-year-old Carl Daniel, also a quadriplegic, will receive one of the largest personal injury settlements in Orange County history, $50 million, after a hit and run accident April 2006.
STACY NERIA: I couldn't drink water for six months
CHRIS NERIA: She couldn't drink water for at least six months after the accident.
EILEEN FRERE: The wife and mother of three strains to speak. Her husband, who quit his job to care for her, helps translate.
STACY NERIA: When I woke up, I only could blink. I couldn't talk. I couldn't swallow.
CHRIS NERIA: She said she's come far in the scheme of things because when she first woke up, she could not do anything but blink. She couldn't breathe on her own or move anything from her nose down basically.
[GRAPHIC: William Bradshaw]
EILEEN FRERE: Neria and Daniel, also a mother of three, require around-the-clock care since William Bradshaw, a homeless man on probation for DUI, slammed into them as they jogged along Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach. He received the maximum sentence of four years last February for felony hit and run.
In agreeing to give the women $50 million, the city of Dana point says it does not admit any fault. The women's attorney, however, insists the accident could have been prevented if the city had properly marked the bike lane, and if the lane did not exceed city guidelines. It was 12 feet wide instead of eight.
DANIEL CALLAHAN: The reason why they're not supposed to exceed eight feet is because a driver, a motorist, may mistake it as a driving lane.
EILEEN FRERE: The families say the $50 million will help them move forward.
CRAIG DANIEL: This was a bittersweet thing that, you know you might have celebrated for 15 minutes or so, but that was it. And it's - the reality continues.
[GRAPHIC: Neria and Daniel]
EILEEN FRERE: The reality, no amount of money can replace what they had.
CHRIS NERIA: She misses being the wife and the mom that she was.
EILEEN FRERE: And it was Stacy's 34th birthday the day of that accident. As for that 1.7 mile stretch of Coast Highway that was not marked and where the accident took place, the city has since put up a barrier for the bike lane to make it safer. Reporting live from Costa Mesa, Eileen Frere, ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
DAVID ONO: Wow, such a tough story, Eileen, thank you for that report.Contact Us To Speak With A Trial Attorney Today